Asthma in children

Dec 09, 2008
Finding out that your child has asthma can be devastating news in your family, but today you can keep your child healthy and learn how to cope with this chronic disease. It can make you too cautious and become a stressful experience for your family. Knowing more about asthma in children can help you overcome the difficulties and cope with the disease.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways, characterized by increased sensitivity of the bronchi to different allergens. The causes of asthma are still unknown, but there are several risk factors contributing to the development of this disease.

Asthma attack begins with the narrowing of the airways caused by the spasms of the muscles inflammatory reaction, and accumulation of the mucus. This makes breathing very difficult for the child and leads to coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing. Many children will also report such asthma symptoms as pain and the sensation of tightness in chest.

More and more children suffer from asthma and many specialists say that it may be connected to changes in modern life. Some scientists stress the importance of environmental factor, such as air pollution and second-hand smoking. Other common causes of asthma include allergies, strenuous exercises, temperature drop, heartburn, respiratory infections, stress, viruses and other irritants.

Some children are more predisposed to developing asthma early in life. Risk factors for asthma in children include allergies, genetic predisposition, frequent respiratory infections, mother's smoking during pregnancy and after birth, low birth weight and some others.

How to prevent asthma in children?

  • One of the first steps to prevent asthma for your child is to find out what triggers asthma. Once you know the cause, you can more or less control the situation and considerably reduce exposure to the irritant.

  • Make your home a safe environment for your child. If it's pets' hair that triggers asthma attack in your child, you may need to avoid any contacts with cats, dogs or other animals.

  • If your child is sensitive to fungi or dust, it is important to clean your house to reduce the exposure to these irritants. You may need to choose special covers for mattresses and pillows and get rid of the carpets and other things that might gather dust.

  • If your child has food allergy, then it is important to exclude such products as cow's milk, nuts, fish, eggs, citrus fruits, soy and others. If you fail to identify what causes allergy in your child, ask your doctor so that the proper testing could be done.

  • Be aware of food preservatives as they are also known as asthma triggers. Check if the products don't contain such common food additive as sulfite used in food preparation.

  • Smoking should be banned at your child's presence. It is also known that second-hand smoking can contribute to the development of asthma, so make sure your child avoids places where people are smoking.

  • Learn more about asthma medications to keep asthma in control. There are two types of asthma drugs: preventive drugs and rescue medicines. Preventive drugs are used to treat the cause of asthma and often act in the long term. Rescue or quick-relief drugs help when the asthma attack begins. They act by opening the airways, making it easier for the child to breathe.